MORE than 6 000 tonnes of maize have been delivered to the Grain Marketing Board during the first three weeks of the 2021 marketing season, with authorities now finalising the setting up of hundreds of additional buying points in anticipation of increased deliveries over the coming weeks.
The grain marketing season opened on April 1 at nearly 1 400 buying points that have been set up countrywide, while an additional 400 are being established as the season progresses.
All 84 GMB depots have begun operating daily, including on weekends, to facilitate uninterrupted grain deliveries, with supplies expected to start picking up next month.
The grain utility is paying $32 000 for a tonne of maize, $48 000 for a tonne of soya bean and $38 000 for traditional grains, according to a new producer price schedule published last week.
Government has set aside $60 billion to ensure timely payment of farmers, with the GMB undertaking to effect payments to farmers within 72 hours of delivery.
Farmers who deliver their grain to mobile collection points will be paid within five days.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Anxious Masuka said maize and other grain products have been declared controlled products, meaning that they can only be sold to designated buyers.
“The marketing season for maize, traditional grains and soya bean started on April 1, 2021,” said Minister Masuka.
“All the 84 GMB depots are open 7 days a week. A total of 1 389 buying points have been identified for the convenience of farmers.
“A further 400 collection points are being identified. The target is to establish 1 800 buying points countrywide, one in each ward.
“Furthermore, the 772 cotton depots and buying points will be activated soon to receive additional maize and grains.
“The GMB has adequate grain bags, drying and storage capacity. Additional drying and storage capacity has also been secured with the private sector.”
Government, said Minister Masuka, was availing combine harvesters to farmers through the newly established Agricultural Finance Corporation Leasing Company (Agribank).
THE SUNDAY MAIL